What comes to mind when you think of a ritual? Perhaps it’s saying grace before meals or fasting for Ramadan. It could be setting a new year’s resolution or a sharing formative activity with your fraternity or sorority.

Rituals are intentional, repeated activities that interrupt the daily flow of life and help us pause and reflect. They give us a reason to be purposeful and help us feel more anchored, steady, and connected with ourselves and others.

Civic rituals reconnect us to our role as citizens. They give us a moment to refocus on our commitments as a contributing member of society. When we feel jaded about the future of our country or feel like we can’t do anything about it, civic rituals give us a way to hold, address, and transform those feelings.

We invite you to bring more civic ritual into your life this month. How? Keep reading…

Civic Ritual

This is the second step to Spark Citizenship — a year-long project to equip more Americans (just like you!) as sparks of civic activity. Every month, you’ll dig into a timely theme and receive practical resources, inspiring examples, and grounded encouragement to not only embrace this civic mindset in yourself but also spark it in others. It’s an activating, community-building, and hope-filled antidote to the polarizing pull of the 2024 election.

Looking for more? Start with joining and inviting → 

Your task this month — 

Carve out time to reflect on what you feel your responsibilities are as a citizen. Then develop a ritual or two to help hold to those commitments. Take something you regularly do — making a meal, commuting, exercising, logging onto your computer — and add a purposeful thought, action, or intention. Use what you do physically as a metaphor for the way you want to be in the world. And even better, invite someone to share this ritual with you, or bring it to your wider community.

Resource library — 

Over the month, we’ll be adding new ideas, tips, conversation prompts, inspiring stories, and other content to help you practice the civic skill of developing and practicing civic rituals.

Preview for social media content of recipe for ritual slides.Follow the recipe for ritual

What ingredients do you have on hand? Turn your daily habits into a ritualized way to be a contributing, responsible member of our society — especially during this election year.

While listening to the news, find one action to take inspired by what you heard. On the days you workout or go to the gym, also flex a civic muscle like volunteering or connecting with a neighbor you don’t know well. Before bed, journal about the kind of world you want to live in and how you can be part of making it happen.

Cook up a repeated, intentional practice to help you be an active member of your community. This is especially important when anxiety or apathy about the election starts to kick in… lean on your rituals to help you stay grounded and committed to being part of the solution, whatever that looks like for you.

Explore a ritual for recipe →

Explore the world of ritual design

There are so many wise and creative thinkers who are building ritual intentionally. Explore what they have to offer.

Start a book club

Reading itself can be a ritual — now, how to turn that into a civic one? Start a book club with friends with the purpose of strengthening your bonds as valuable, contributing members of your community. Develop a framework for connection and discussion that leads to actionable ideas for how you can contribute to making things better off for everyone.

Here are two books about the power of ritual — quite literally! — that could help your book club get off on a strong foot.

Listen and learn: building community in an age of isolation

Hear from Casper ter Kuile, former Harvard divinity scholar and author of The Power of Ritual, who says that the reality is today that, “when you are closer to one another, you constantly have to navigate each other’s desires and ways of being and the volume of their voices… just all sorts of ways in which we get on each other’s nerves.” In other words, togetherness is hard, and for most of us, when we are together, it’s on our terms, when and if we feel like it.

Listen to the podcast →

Reimagine the shared civic ritual of singing with strangers

There’s no doubt that the National Anthem evokes a range of responses. Some feel a swell of pride; others are turned away by the contradictions and complexity of this war-glorifying anthem. But there’s also no doubt that singing with strangers is powerful.

The civic ritual of singing together is essential in helping us feel part of something bigger than ourselves. So when our collective anthems don’t feel truly collective, we should seek to make it so — rather than throw them out. Poet Laureate Ada Limón provides her insight with this poem. She invites us to consider how we could reimagine an anthem — a shared civic ritual — that is home to all Americans.

Read: A New National Anthem

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